The explosion of Domingo Schingaro

A great dinner with the Apulian chef, inspired by his return home. With pastry-chef Mita and Marzolla in the dining room he forms a super-trio

16-08-2017

Domingo Schingaro, born in 1980, is chef at  Due Camini in Savelletri di Fasano (Brindisi)

To be honest, who would have thought? Who would have imagined a cuisine of such standards? I still remember  Andrea Ribaldone in the days at  Identità Expo, when he told me of Domingo Schingaro, who was then his sous chef: «I found him at  I Due Buoi in Alessandria. He was chef before I arrived. He had not reacted in front of a difficult situation. There were coaches of tourists coming at every hour, day and night, and he would prepare classic, rather banal dishes». The good Domingo had lost his heart, his passion. «I asked him to stay as sous, I knew there was a fire hidden in him, underneath the ashes». Now he’s burning again, indeed he is: and this happens at Due Camini [two fireplaces, what a coincidence] where he serves not just some of the best food in Apulia, but an absolute excellence.

The staff at Due Camini. The excellent Giuseppe Cupertino, the dark-dressed tall guy in the middle, takes care of the wine

The staff at Due Camini. The excellent Giuseppe Cupertino, the dark-dressed tall guy in the middle, takes care of the wine

Born in 1980 he’s now a prophet at home. The return to his origins stimulated an almost unexpected growth, «I was born in Bari. Going back home after 12 years did me good», he said last year, shortly after becoming the chef of all the seven restaurants at Borgo Egnazia, of which Due Camini is the gourmet one. Schingaro Jr took partly after Schingaro Sr, that is to say his dad Onofrio, a fisherman: «From him I inherited a perfect knowledge of the sea and its delicacies». There’s something of Ribaldone too, in his carefree creativity and attention to local raw materials (even poor ones) as one of the things Ribaldone taught him is that fine dining doesn’t mean you should ignore food cost.

Andrea Ribaldone and Domingo Schingaro

Andrea Ribaldone and Domingo Schingaro

Onion and plum

Onion and plum

Steak tartare with podolica beef, cozze pelose [mussels], barbecue sauce, sea urchins, mayonnaise with tomato water, powdered and roasted Regina tomato

Steak tartare with podolica beef, cozze pelose [mussels], barbecue sauce, sea urchins, mayonnaise with tomato water, powdered and roasted Regina tomato

However, Domenico Schingaro, born Domingo, is mostly himself at Due Camini. He has found his dimension. And it’s a very elegant dimension. There’s Apulia: the sea, as we said, as well as all the territory; there are vegetables and techniques, deliciousness and great cooking skills, minimalism and harmony. As with the appetizers: Chicken, yuzu, raspberry and celery, voluptuous; Onion and plum, a small magical treasure chest. The Steak tartare with cozze pelose, barbecue sauce, sea urchins, mayonnaise with tomato water, powdered and roasted Regina tomato is a beautiful, delicious and very elegant tribute to local products (it is placed, as with the other dishes, on the beautiful china from Orazio Del Monaco, a craftsman in Grottaglie. The meat comes from Michele Varvara, it’s a guarantee).

Rabbit, anchovy sauce, endive, liver covered in hazelnuts

Rabbit, anchovy sauce, endive, liver covered in hazelnuts

Spaghetto Cavalieri with allievi, broad bean cream and fresh broad beans

Spaghetto Cavalieri with allievi, broad bean cream and fresh broad beans

We continue: the Rabbit, anchovy sauce, endive, liver covered in hazelnuts  is masterful, delicious; the same applies to the Spaghetto Cavalieri with allievi (“dirty”, that is to say with their liver), cream of broad beans and fresh broad beans, «the Apulian tagliatella», says master Donato Marzolla, the great dining room dominus (read here too: My rules for the dining room staff).

Raviolo with caciocavallo and Timut pepper

Raviolo with caciocavallo and Timut pepper

Potato gnocchi filled with sheep impignata, a centrifuge juice of friggitelli peppers, French beans with toasted sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil

Potato gnocchi filled with sheep impignata, a centrifuge juice of friggitelli peppers, French beans with toasted sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil

The Raviolo with caciocavallo and Timut pepper was delicious but not as much as the surprising  Potato gnocchi filled with sheep impignata, a centrifuge juice of friggitelli peppers, French beans with toasted sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil (the sheep, with water, vegetables, caciocavallo and salame, is baked overnight in the oven, in a pignata, at 300°C, «and we pull it in the morning»). Pure pleasure.

Variation of asparagus

Variation of asparagus

Schingaro shows a mature style that gives him a velvety touch, an elegant hand that can enhance the vegetal world. The Variation of asparagus offers a great proof of this: he cooks it in three ways (dehydrated, to characterise the dish; raw; blanched in the pan), all this with a broth of holly oak gelatine and cream of peas. Suave.

Wood pigeon, raw celeriac fermented in miso and burnt, beetroot sauce and gel, celeriac cooked at low temperature and burnt

Wood pigeon, raw celeriac fermented in miso and burnt, beetroot sauce and gel, celeriac cooked at low temperature and burnt

The meat is equally delicious: Colombaccio di passo fasanese  (our dinner was at the same time of the wood pigeon’s migration from North Africa to Northern Europe), raw celeriac fermented in miso and burnt, beetroot sauce and gel, celeriac cooked at low temperature and burnt  is a great dish.

Tiziano Mita

Tiziano Mita

Buttermilk, lemon, lemon sorbet and ginger and powdered licorice

Buttermilk, lemon, lemon sorbet and ginger and powdered licorice

Yogurt and rhubarb

Yogurt and rhubarb

We finish with great desserts, where another super-professional enters the scene, Tiziano Mita: his Buttermilk, lemon, lemon sorbet and ginger and powdered licorice is spectacular, once again we have pure elegance. Then there’s Yogurt and rhubarb: low fat yogurt with rhubarb compote, rhubarb, vanilla ice cream and oil, rhubarb chips, stones of malt-dextrine and aromatic essences from  Pri.ma, in Corato (Bari), some 40 essences made with the rotovapor. Mita, born in 1979 in Ceglie Messapica (Brindisi) is a star: he worked at  Hervé This with Pierre Gagnaire, and says: «Between 2000 and 2003, what happened in Spain with Adrià  held the stage also in Paris, thanks to This».
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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